Elmer "Sonny" Dunham
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1911-11-16
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Elmer "Sonny" Dunham

Elmer "Sonny" Dunham Biography (Wikipedia)

Elmer "Sonny" Dunham (November 16, 1911 – July 9, 1990) was an American trumpet player and bandleader. A versatile musician, he was one of the few trumpet players who could double on the trombone with equal skill.

Born in Brockton, Massachusetts, the son of Elmer and Ethel (née Lewis) Dunham, he attended local schools and took lessons on the valve trombone at the age of 7. He changed to the slide trombone at the age of 11, and was playing in local bands by the age of 13. Dunham began his musical career as a trombone player in the Boston area.

In the late 1920s he moved to New York, where he played with Ben Bernie for six months before moving on in 1929 to Paul Tremaine's Orchestra, remaining there for two years. It was while was working with Tremaine's group, where he also sang and arranged, that he switched to the trumpet.

In 1931, he left Tremaine and for a few months led his own group, calling it Sonny Dunham and his New York Yankees. In 1931, along with clarinettist Clarence Hutchenrider, trombonist-singer Pee Wee Hunt and singer Kenny Sargent, he was recruited by Glen Gray for Gray's Casa Loma Orchestra. During the golden years of Casa Loma from 1931 to 1935, he was a popular soloist, scoring a big hit with his trumpet work on "Memories of You". His style, described as "spectacular" and "brash" is also evident on "Ol' Man River", "Wild Goose Chase", "No Name Jive" and "Nagasaki". He stayed until March 1936, when he formed another more unusual group, Sonny Lee and The New Yorkers Band, which featured 14 pieces, with ten of his musicians doubling on trumpet.[citation needed]

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